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Medicine

Citizen Scientists Develop Eye Drops That Provide Night Vision 77

Posted by Soulskill
from the cool-toys-with-no-off-switch dept.
rtoz writes: A group of scientists in California have successfully created eye drops that temporarily enable night vision. They use mixture of insulin and a chemical known as Chlorin e6 (Ce6) to enable the user to view objects clearly in darkness up to 50 meters away. Ce6 is found in some deep-sea fish and often used to treat night blindness. The solution starts to work within an hour of being applied to the user's eyes, and lasts for several hours afterward. The test subject's eyesight returned to normal the next day. The organization Science for the Masses has released a paper detailing the experiment on their website.
Graphics

Another Patent Pool Forms For HEVC 68

Posted by Soulskill
from the money-to-be-squeezed dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A new patent pool, dubbed HEVC Advance, has formed for the HEVC video codec. This pool offers separate licensing from the existing MPEG LA HEVC patent pool. In an article for CNET, Stephen Shankland writes, "HEVC Advance promises a 'transparent' licensing process, but so far it isn't sharing details except to say it's got 500 patents it describes as essential for using HEVC, that it plans to unveil its license in the third quarter, and that expected licensors include General Electric, Technicolor, Dolby, Philips and Mitsubishi Electric. The group's statement suggested that some patent holders weren't satisfied with the money they'd make through MPEG LA's license. One of HEVC Advance's goals is 'delivering a balanced business model that supports HEVC commercialization.' ... HEVC Advance and MPEG LA aren't detailing what led to two patent pools, an outcome that undermines MPEG LA's attempt to offer a convenient 'one-stop shop' for companies needing a license." Perhaps this will lead to increased adoption of royalty-free video codecs such as VP9. Monty Montgomery of Xiph has some further commentary.
Star Wars Prequels

Boeing Patents Star Wars Style Force Field Technology 126

Posted by samzenpus
from the power-up-the-deflector-shield dept.
An anonymous reader was one of many to point out that Boeing doesn't want to rely on a sad devotion to an ancient religion to protect aircraft and conjure up the stolen data tapes, but plans on using force fields instead. "Boeing's new patent may let the force be with you even in real life. The aircraft and defense company has taken a cue from science fiction with its plan to develop a Star Wars style force field that would use energy to deflect any potential damage. Just liking the luminescent shields seen in the film, Boeing's "Method and system for shock wave attenuation via electromagnetic arc" could provide a real-life layer of protection from nearby impacts to targets. The downside: It won't protect from direct hits."
GNU is Not Unix

RMS Talks Net Neutrality, Patents, and More 165

Posted by samzenpus
from the straight-from-the-man dept.
alphadogg writes "According to Richard Stallman, godfather of the free software movement, Facebook is a "monstrous surveillance engine," tech companies working for patent reform aren't going nearly far enough, and parents must lobby their children's schools to keep data private and provide free software alternatives. The free software guru touched on a host of topics in his keynote Saturday at the LibrePlanet conference, a Free Software Foundation gathering at the Scala Center at MIT.
Businesses

Stanford Study Credits Lack of Non-Competes For Silicon Valley's Success 114

Posted by timothy
from the santa-clara-clause dept.
HughPickens.com writes Natalie Kitroeff writes at Bloomberg that a new study says the secret to Silicon Valley's triumph as the global capital of innovation may lie in a quirk of California's employment law that prohibits the legal enforcement of non-compete clauses. Unlike most states, California prohibits enforcement of non-compete clauses that force people who leave jobs to wait for a predetermined period before taking positions at rival companies. That puts California in the ideal position to rob other regions of their most prized inventors, "Policymakers who sanction the use of non-competes could be inadvertently creating regional disadvantage as far as retention of knowledge workers is concerned," wrote the authors of the study "Regional disadvantage? Employee non-compete agreements and brain drain" (PDF). "Regions that choose to enforce employee non-compete agreements may therefore be subjecting themselves to a domestic brain drain not unlike that described in the literature on international emigration out of less developed countries."

The study, which looked at the behavior of people who had registered at least two patents from 1975 to 2005, focused on Michigan, which in 1985 reversed its longstanding prohibition of non-compete agreements. The authors found that after Michigan changed the rules, the rate of emigration among inventors was twice as a high as it was in states where non-competes remained illegal. Even worse for Michigan, its most talented inventors were also the most likely to flee. "Firms are going to be willing to relocate someone who is really good, as opposed to someone who is average," says Lee Fleming. For the inventors, it makes sense to take a risk on a place such as California, where they have more freedom. "If the job they relocate for doesn't work out, then they can walk across the street because there are no non-competes."
Power

Why Apple Won't Adopt a Wireless Charging Standard 184

Posted by timothy
from the type-oughtta-be-enough-for-anyone dept.
Lucas123 writes As the battle for mobile dominance continues among three wireless charging standards, with many smartphone and wearable makers having already chosen sides, Apple continues to sit on the sideline. While the new Apple Watch uses a tightly coupled magnetic inductive wireless charging technology, it still requires a cable. The only advantage is that no port is required, allowing the watch case to remain sealed and water resistant. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, however, remain without any form of wireless charging, either tightly coupled inductive or more loosely coupled resonant charging. Over the past few years, Apple has filed patents on its own flavor of wireless charging, a "near field" or resonant technology, but no products have as yet come to market. If and when it does select a technology, it will likely be its own proprietary specification, which ensures accessory makers will have to pay royalties to use it.
Microsoft

Microsoft Asks US Court To Ban Kyocera's Android Phones 148

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-kyocera-is-totally-making-bank-off-your-patents dept.
angry tapir writes: Microsoft has asked a court in Seattle to ban Kyocera's DuraForce, Hydro and Brigadier lines of cellular phones in the U.S., alleging that they infringed seven Microsoft patents. The software giant charged in its complaint that some Kyocera phone features that come from its use of the Android operating system infringe Microsoft's patents.
United Kingdom

UK Gov't Asks: Is 10 Years In Jail the Answer To Online Pirates? 284

Posted by timothy
from the hate-the-way-they-rape-and-pillage dept.
An anonymous reader writes with a link to this piece at TorrentFreak: Physical counterfeiters can receive up to 10 years in jail under UK copyright law but should online pirates receive the same maximum punishment? A new report commissioned by the government reveals that many major rightsholders believe they should, but will that have the desired effect? A new study commissioned by the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) examines whether the criminal sanctions for copyright infringement available under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA 1988) are currently proportionate and correct, or whether they should be amended. While the Digital Economy Act 2010 increased financial penalties up to a maximum of £50,000, in broad terms the main 'offline' copyright offenses carry sentences of up to 10 years in jail while those carried out online carry a maximum of 'just' two.
Patents

SpaceX's Challenge Against Blue Origins' Patent Fails To Take Off 61

Posted by samzenpus
from the take-them-to-court dept.
speedplane writes As was previously discussed on Slashdot, back in September SpaceX challenged a patent owned by Blue Origin. The technology concerned landing rockets at sea. Yesterday, the judges in the case issued their opinion stating that they are unable to initiate review of the patent on the grounds brought by SpaceX. Although at first glance this would appear to be a Blue Origin win, looking closer, the judges explained that Blue Origin's patent lacks sufficient disclosure, effectively stating that the patent is invalid, but not on the specific grounds brought by SpaceX: "Because claim 14 lacks adequate structural support for some of the means-plus-function limitations, it is not amenable to construction. And without ascertaining the breadth of claim 14, we cannot undertake the necessary factual inquiry for evaluating obviousness with respect to differences between the claimed subject matter and the prior art." If SpaceX wants to move forward against Blue Origin, this opinion bodes well for them, but they will need to take their case in front of a different court.
Patents

Has the Supreme Court Made Patent Reform Legislation Unnecessary? 99

Posted by Soulskill
from the reply-hazy-try-again dept.
An anonymous reader writes: As Congress gears up again to seriously consider patent litigation abuse—starting with the introduction of H.R. 9 (the "Innovation Act") last month—opponents of reform are arguing that recent Supreme Court cases have addressed concerns. Give the decisions time to work their way through the system, they assert. A recent hearing on the subject before a U.S. House Judiciary Committee (HJC) Subcommittee shined some light on the matter. And, as HJC Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a long-time leader in Internet and intellectual property issues, put it succinctly in his opening remarks: "We've heard this before, and though I believe that the Court has taken several positive steps in the right direction, their decisions can't take the place of a clear, updated and modernized statute. In fact, many of the provisions in the Innovation Act do not necessarily lend themselves to being solved by case law, but by actual law—Congressional legislation."
Patents

Patent Trolls On the Run But Not Vanquished Yet 56

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-forget-the-fire dept.
snydeq writes Strong legislation that will weaken the ability of the trolls to shake down innovators is likely to pass Congress, but more should be done, writes InfoWorld's Bill Snyder. "The Innovation Act isn't an ideal fix for the program patent system. But provisions in the proposed law, like one that will make trolls pay legal costs if their claims are rejected, will remove a good deal of the risk that smaller companies face when they decide to resist a spurious lawsuit," Snyder writes. That said, "You'd have to be wildly optimistic to think that software patents will be abolished. Although the EFF's proposals call for the idea to be studied, [EFF attorney Daniel] Nazer doesn't expect it to happen; he instead advocates several reforms not contained in the Innovation Act."
Patents

Jury Tells Apple To Pay $532.9 Million In Patent Suit 186

Posted by Soulskill
from the or-remit-821,110-iphones dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Smartflash LLC has won a patent lawsuit against Apple over DRM and technology relating to the storage of downloaded songs, games, and videos on iTunes. Apple must now pay $532.9 million in damages. An Apple spokesperson did not hesitate to imply Smartflash is a patent troll: "Smartflash makes no products, has no employees, creates no jobs, has no U.S. presence, and is exploiting our patent system to seek royalties for technology Apple invented. We refused to pay off this company for the ideas our employees spent years innovating and unfortunately we have been left with no choice but to take this fight up through the court system." The trial happened in the same court that decided Apple owed VirnetX $368 million over FaceTime-related patents back in 2012.
Google

Google Teams Up With 3 Wireless Carriers To Combat Apple Pay 186

Posted by samzenpus
from the working-together dept.
HughPickens.com writes AP reports that in an effort to undercut Apple's hit service Apple Pay, Google is teaming up with three wireless carriers by building its payment service into Android smartphones sold by AT&T Inc., Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA. Besides trying to make it more convenient to use Wallet, Google also is hoping to improve the nearly 4-year-old service. Toward that end, Google is buying some mobile payment technology and patents from Softcard, a 5-year-old venture owned by the wireless carriers. Financial terms weren't disclosed but Apple Pay's popularity probably helped forge the unlikely alliance between Google and the wireless carriers. Google traditionally has had a prickly relationship with the carriers, largely because it doesn't believe enough has been done to upgrade wireless networks and make them cheaper so more people can spend more time online.

The biggest challenge however is one that both Apple and Google face: Only a small fraction of the 10 million or so retail outlets in the U.S.–220,000 at last count–have checkout readers that can accept payments from either system. Both wallets use a radio technology called Near Field Communication to send payment, and it's expected to take years for most stores to be upgraded. What's at play? The big tech companies and carriers seem convinced that our phones will eventually replace our wallets. For carriers, that could make mobile wallet technology table stakes over the next few years as they compete for consumers.
AT&T

AT&T Patents System To "Fast-Lane" File-Sharing Traffic 112

Posted by samzenpus
from the greased-lightning dept.
An anonymous reader writes Telecom giant AT&T has been awarded a patent for speeding up BitTorrent and other peer-to-peer traffic, and reducing the impact that these transactions have on the speed of its network. Unauthorized file-sharing generates thousands of petabytes of downloads every month, sparking considerable concern among the ISP community due to its detrimental effect on network speeds. AT&T and its Intellectual Property team has targeted the issue in a positive manner, and has appealed for the new patent to create a 'fast lane' for BitTorrent and other file-sharing traffic. As well as developing systems around the caching of local files, the ISP has proposed analyzing BitTorrent traffic to connect high-impact clients to peers who use fewer resources.
Displays

Apple Patent Could Have "Broad Ramifications" For VR Headsets 128

Posted by timothy
from the it's-on-your-face dept.
An anonymous reader writes Filed in 2008, published in 2013, and legally granted to Apple this week, the company's patent for a 'Head-mounted display apparatus for retaining a portable electronic device with display' could have "broad ramifications" for mobile VR headsets like Samsung's Gear VR and Google Cardboard, says patent attorney Eric Greenbaum. "This Apple HMD patent is significant. I would say it introduces potential litigation risks for companies that have or are planning to release a mobile device HMD," he said. "There is no duty for Apple to make or sell an HMD. They can sit on this patent and use it strategically either by enforcing it against potential infringers, licensing it, or using it as leverage in forming strategic partnerships."
Patents

Patent Troll Wins $15.7M From Samsung By Claiming To Own Bluetooth 126

Posted by Soulskill
from the also-invented-the-moon dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A jury has upheld patent claims against Samsung and awarded the patent-holder $15.7 million. "The patents relate to compatibility between different types of modems, and connect to a string of applications going back to 1997. The first version of Bluetooth was invented by Swedish cell phone company Ericsson in 1994." Lawyers for the plaintiff argue that the patents cover all devices that use Bluetooth 2.0 or later, so further cases could extend far beyond Samsung. Of course, the company that won the lawsuit wasn't the one who made the invention, or the one who patented it. The company is Rembrandt IP, "one of the oldest and most successful" patent trolls.
Displays

Apple Patents Head-Mounted iPhone 55

Posted by Soulskill
from the short-step-to-a-literal-eyephone dept.
mpicpp sends word of a patent newly awarded to Apple, #8,957,835, which describes a head-mounted apparatus that uses an iPhone (or iPod) as a display. The device "temporarily integrates or merges both mechanically and electronically a head-mounted device with a portable electronic device." It sounds a bit like Samsung's Gear VR headset, and many outlets are reporting it as being a virtual reality device. However, the patent itself doesn't mention VR, and it was filed in 2008, long before the VR rush of the past few years. That said, Apple has recently been trying to hire engineers with experience developing VR-related software, so it's something they could be evaluating.
Patents

Algorithmic Patenting 85

Posted by Soulskill
from the monkeys-at-typewriters dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Venturebeat reports on companies using software to "create" patents. They say a company called Cloem will use the software to "linguistically manipulate a seed set of a client's patent claims by, for example, substituting in synonyms or reordering steps in a process, thereby generating tens of thousands of potentially patentable inventions." The article says, "There is reason to believe that at least some of its computer-conceived inventions could be patentable and, indeed, patents have already been granted on inventions designed wholly or in part by software."
The Courts

Dept. of Justice Blesses IEEE Rules On Injunctions and Reasonability 32

Posted by samzenpus
from the keep-it-out-of-court dept.
Andy Updegrove writes During the mobile platform patent wars of recent years Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Motorola and the rest of the major vendors sought injunctions against each other to prevent their competitor from selling their products at all. The suits were often based on claims that a vendor had to pay a reasonable royalty on a 'standards essential patent.' The resulting litigation clogged up the courts, and the regulators were not amused. Now, after almost two years of vigorous debate, the standards development organization behind WiFi and thousands of other ICT standards (IEEE-SA) has received the blessing of the U.S. Dept. of Justice to forbid members that have pledged to license such patents from seeking an injunction until all other remedies have been exhausted. Whether other standards organizations will follow suit remains to be seen.